During her four-year climb to fame, Kalynn Stearne has developed an acute inner “come on alarm” to ward off sexual predators and social climbers. Now that she is embarking on her first nationwide tour as lead performer, the alarm is on heightened alert. Kalynn is also exhausted. A grinding schedule of daily rehearsals and press interviews, plus the crush of paparazzi and fans, leaves her no opportunity for a simple walk or restaurant meal. Plus, violent nightmares ensure that she never gets a full night’s rest.
THE SAFE LIST’s other central character, 23-year-old photographer Layne Kennett, dislikes working with celebrities, but gets stuck covering Kalynn’s “Synchromergence” North American Tour. His father, Roger, owns the company filming the tour. Roger has arranged the gig to keep Layne employed during probation for a felony that dad prefers to keep hush hush.
At first, Kalynn and Layne misunderstand and are wary of each other. But their loneliness, essential goodness, attractiveness, and mutual sense of peril draw them together. Also, Layne proves to be a down-and-dirty fighter who will do anything to protect the “Platinum Princess” his father warned him to avoid socially.
Unfortunately, author G.S. Fairbairn sandwiches a heaping serving of the erotic romance genre inside what is basically a romantic suspense novel. Although Fairbairn creates a male lead who really does understand what a girl wants, there’s just too much explicit sexual action slowing the plot. And, although the novel’s dialogue mostly passes the “sounds-right” test, there are cringeworthy moments such as when Kalynn says, “Take me all the way, my stud.”
Characterization is one of the novel’s strong points. Kalynn and Layne build reader sympathy, because they are both likeable. Another particularly appealing relationship is the tender and mutually protective dad/daughter relationship between Kalynn and Gage, the head of her security team. Fairbairn also crafts believably vile bad guys, begging to be skewered by the #MeToo movement. But, oddly enough, the novel’s most important villain is a weak link, because he plays a minor role for much of the novel.
Thrilling and fast-paced, THE SAFE LIST admirably dramatizes topical issues in the entertainment industry with an erotic romance rolled up in a romantic suspense novel.
~Alicia Rudnicki for IndieReader